Claw toes are commonly mistaken for mallet toes and hammertoes. You might have one due to genes, muscle imbalance, ill-fitting shoes, or neurological disease. It can limit walking or running and cause a lot of pain.
Our professionals at the Rogers Foot and Ankle Institute will be here to address your mallet toe, claw foot matters, and general foot pain. Reach out to us today whether you need assistance wearing shoes that are more in line with your specific condition or need help to prevent claw foot, muscle imbalances, foot ulcers, or more.
This simple guide will discuss everything about claw toes and when you should visit the podiatrist for your claw toes.
What are Claw Toes?
Just like the name, you have a claw toe when your toe bends into an abnormal claw-like position. The bend originates at the end and middle joints. Claw toes typically occur in the four smaller toes of your foot.
Claw toe is common among people with a high arched foot type. If you notice that you fall into this category and also have other conditions, it is necessary to take action as soon as possible. If you don’t treat your claw toes on time, they can become permanently stiff in their claw-like shape.
Claw toes are usually painful because the toes get pressed into the soles of your shoes. They also make walking or running very difficult. In rare cases, claw toes can cause an infection. These all aspects can affect your quality of life in the Utah area.
When thinking about diagnosis and treatment, remember two stages of claw toes.
The two stages of claw toes:
- Flexible: At this early stage, the stiff toes are still loose at the joint.
- Rigid: At this stage, the toes are completely stiff
The best time to visit our team at the Rogers Foot and Ankle Institute is at the early stage. The effectiveness of treatment options, including surgery, reduces as the clawed toe gets rigid.
If you have high arches or tend to rotate your feet inward when you work, you should be on the lookout for claw toes. They sometimes appear like hammertoes and mallet toes.
Weak muscles cause hammertoes, and the bend happens in the second (middle) toe joint. On the other hand, mallet toes bend at the last joint. In the case of claw toes, the toe is stiff, and the bend occurs in both the middle and end joints.
What Causes the Clawing of the Toes?
There are many causes for clawed toes. Genes play a role here. Like other toe deformities, claw toes can be inherited.
It is still essential to remember that genes are not the only cause of this condition.
You can also experience claw foot due to an ankle injury or after surgery in your ankle.
However, an imbalance of foot muscles is the leading cause of clawfoot in most cases. Unbalanced foot muscles can be caused by:
- Nerve damage (can be caused by alcoholism or diabetes)
- Spinal cord tumors.
- Polio and cerebral palsy.
- Stroke. The stroke-side foot is affected.
- Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease.
- Rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.
- Poor-fitting shoes
Although there are cases where the cause of claw toes is not identified. That is why even those who do not have risk factors have to pay attention to bent toes or any pain in their toes. Other symptoms to look out for are:
- Ulcers (this is rare)
If you notice issues with your toe muscles, toe joints, or see general foot deformities, reach out to our medical professionals at the Rogers Foot and Ankle Institute. Whether you have peripheral neuropathy, nerve damage, muscle imbalances, or other issues, our podiatrist professionals are here to help.
Can You Straighten Claw Toes?
At the early (flexible) stage, yes. However, claw toes get worse over time. That is why you should seek treatment immediately when you notice the clawing of your toes.
Claw toes can be treated using home remedies or through medical care. The best course of treatment depends on the underlying cause, your medical history, and the extent of stiffness in the affected toes.
In some cases, medical care and home remedies are combined to treat claw toes effectively.
Medical Treatment for Claw Toes
There are many medical options for the treatment of clawed toes. These include:
- Tape and splint: if your clawed toes are still flexible, your doctor might use tape or a splint to keep them from clawing in. They will recommend home exercises to help you retain flexibility in your toes.
- Shoes: In cases where the cause is ill-fitting shoes, your doctor may recommend you wear shoes with large toe boxes and avoid other types of shoes.
- Surgery: If other medical interventions do not work or your claw toes are in the rigid stage, your doctor might recommend surgery. One common surgical option is to shorten the bone at the base of your toe. This will give your toe more room to straighten out.
Suppose an underlying medical condition causes your clawfoot. In that case, your doctor might recommend surgery, medication, or other treatment options to address it.
You can straighten out your toes through the following ways.
- Exercise: Regular exercise such as moving your toes with your hands and picking up objects with your toes can relieve you of the symptoms and prevent them from worsening.
- Shoe changes: You should only wear shoes that give your toes enough room to move. You can also use a special pad to reduce pain in the sole of your foot.
These remedies can prevent your toe joints from becoming rigid and even straighten your toes. However, there are cases where only surgery can prevent your toes from becoming permanently clawed.
Contact the Rogers Foot and Ankle Institute For Help with Your Claw Foot
In the early stages, you might not feel much pain or discomfort. Remember that it is possible to manage it if you have this condition. It is certainly something you are better off without.
As such, it is in this stage where you must work with the professionals at the Rogers Foot and Ankle Institute for the care you need to preserve your quality of life.